Heart patients coming for tests to Holy Family Hospital (HFH) are being turned away, even though the only public-sector angiography equipment in Rawalpindi installed there is in order.
The equipment is fully functional and the hospital has the necessary medical and support staff, but no tests are carried out. Consequently heart patients visiting HFH, Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) and District Headquarter Hospital are rerouted elsewhere to have their angiographies done.
Angiography, also known as arteriography, is a medical imaging technique used to visualise the inside of blood vessels and organs of the body. It helps locate clots and blockage in the arteries of heart patients.
The equipment was installed at HFH in 2003 at the cost of Rs600 million, according to the hospital staff. However it was never made fully operational, a staff member said.
An official said as per the plan, doctors at the cardiology department at BBH are to examine patients who can then come to HFH for tests.
According to the rules and regulations, all testing facilities including angiography are provided free-of-charge to Punjab government employees and admitted patients, and only outdoor patients are charged up to Rs10,000 for cardiac testing. The consultant physician is paid 55% share of the income from the tests. These tests cost as much as Rs20,000 to Rs25,000 from private laboratories, said a senior doctor at BBH.
The machine has been properly installed and trained paramedics along with support staff are available but no cardiac tests are being conducted at the hospital. Patients have to go to private laboratories, Military Hospital, or Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) to get tests done, a doctor said.
The inoperative apparatus has not only been creating problems for the patients but also for the students of Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC) who are unable to study angiography, which is part of interventional cardiology.
Without the facility, it will be difficult for the students to study and understand cardiology as subject, said a young doctor at HFH. The doctor added that only radiologists have been benefiting from the facility, taking tests from leg veins to learn about cardiac problems.
Dr Afzal Farooqi, RMC Principal, was not available for a comment despite repeated attempts. The principal is responsible for the clinical activities at the public hospitals.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2011.
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